Curug Cilember is a seven-tier waterfall located in Bogor regency. Despite of its proximity to Puncak, which is a very popular family vacation destination in Sunda, this waterfall in the forest is well hidden behind the crowded street from Jakarta to Puncak.
Curug is a Sundanese word for a waterfall. Ci is a short of cai, which means water. Lember is also a Sundanese word, it means ear mushroom (Auriculariales), since this mushroom was abundant in this forest.
Cilember waterfalls is managed under Ministry of Forestry and labeled as ecotourism. Thus, some basic infrastructures such as canteen and accommodations are already in place. It is really not like hiking through the forest and mountain all by ourselves. But, we can enjoy the nature such as tall trees, butterflies and waterfalls in an environment of a real forest.
Curug Cilember is in a tropical rain forest, hence its humidity can reach 80%. Since it is 900-1000 meters above sea level, the temperature is quite cool: 20-26 degrees Celcius.
The main attraction here is the waterfalls. There are seven waterfalls in this forest, the closest ones are the seventh and sixth. They are located in the same area and approximately 300 meters from the ticket booth. If you like hiking, you may try to go uphill to see the fifth waterfall, which is approximately 450 meters from the seventh waterfall. Then further uphill we can go to the fourth, third and second waterfalls. Presently, there isn't any trail yet for the first waterfall.
The legend said that Curug Cilember was a bathing place of princesses from Siliwangi kingdom. Siliwangi was once a famous kingdom in the land of Sunda. Thus, people believe that washing our face or even take a bath in this waterfall will give us eternal youth.
Hiking to see the waterfalls is not the only thing we can do here. If you are lucky, you can visit the butterfly garden. I said lucky, because when we visited it in late August 2013 it was closed. The staff said it because the butterflies were too few to be displayed.
That is a very sad news, because from what I read it is one of the biggest butterfly garden in Indonesia.
According to the brochure, Cilember Butterfly Garden breeds 12 species of butterflies. They are all indigenous to the forest, such as Papilio Memnon, Papilio helena and Papilio polytes. The butterflies live in a 500 meter square dome. I really hope they manage the butterfly garden better than current condition.
However, if you are interested in butterfly gardens, you may want to check out other butterfly gardens in the land of Sunda: Cihanjuang Butterfly Garden, the butterfly garden at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, Scientia Square Park, and Cikokol city park in Tangerang.
If you like nature and want to spend a night or two in Cilember forest, you can choose either sleeping in wooden bungalows or camping in a tent. The location of the wooden bungalows are facing the seventh waterfall, so you will have a beautiful scenery and a very natural sound of trickling water ;)
The camping ground is adjacent to the wooden bungalows. If you prefer camping, you don't need to bring all of the camping equipments, since the staffs provides many necessary camping stuff for rent, including tents, cooking utensils, sleeping bag, etc.
Curug Cilember is a bit remote from Puncak busy road, hence, it is difficult to find decent meals here. Nevertheless, there are several canteens near the entrance gate, but they only offer simple meals, mostly instant noodles, satay, grilled corns and cold drinks.
Actually, Curug Cilember is only 65 km from Jakarta and the first 50 km or so via toll road. The coordinate is 6°39'39.7"S 106°56'45.6"E. However, since Puncak is a very popular family vacation destination in Sunda, usually the traffic congestion starts from Ciawi toll booth.
First, if you come from Jakarta or Bogor, you should take Jagorawi toll road and exit at Ciawi toll booth. Next, just follow the road until you reach one of the two access points to Curug Cilember. Both are very narrow roads, i.e. the road is not wide enough when two cars passed by:
Unfortunately, there is no sign of Curug Cilember at all on the main road.
This waterfall is located at the end of the road.